What do we learn about Macbeths battlefield deeds and the activites of the thane of cawdor?

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jseligmann eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Act 1, scene 2, we learn from the bleeding Sergeant, what Macbeth did to the rebel Macdonwald:

For brave Macbeth—well he deserves that name—

Disdaining fortune, with his brandish'd steel,

Which smoked with bloody execution,

Like valor's minion carved out his passage

Till he faced the slave,

Which ne'er shook hands, nor bade farewell to him,

Till he unseam'd him from the nave to the chaps,

And fix'd his head upon our battlements.

Then, in the same scene, we learn from Ross what Macbeth (here called Bellona's bridegroom) did to the traitor the Thane of Cawdor:

DUNCAN:

Whence camest thou, worthy Thane?

ROSS:

From Fife, great King,

Where the Norweyan banners flout the sky

And fan our people cold.

Norway himself, with terrible numbers,

Assisted by that most disloyal traitor

The Thane of Cawdor, began a dismal conflict,

Till that Bellona's bridegroom, lapp'd in proof,

Confronted him with self-comparisons,

Point against point rebellious, arm ’gainst arm,

Curbing his lavish spirit; and, to conclude,

The victory fell on us.

(Macbeth is called Bellona's bridegroom because Bellona is the ancient Roman goddess of war. Macbeth, then, is likened by Ross, to be her husband.)

So, Macbeth defeated Cawdor's forces, and, after Cawdor is executed for being a traitor, Macbeth is given his title by King Duncan. This action of the King, of course, fulfills one of the witches' prophecies to Macbeth.